Turn Setbacks into Setups

The weaknesses you need for your interview

October 4, 2018

You are in the middle of an interview for the position you have been working for so long to achieve. So far, things are going well. Rapport is good, you are getting lots of affirmative nods, there is a positive energy to the conversation. Then, out of nowhere, your interviewer throws you a curveball by asking, “what are some of your weaknesses?” All of your imperfections run through your mind…. What do you say?


Being asked about your professional weaknesses is common practice by interviewers in nearly every field of work. It should not come as a surprise to you that you are likely to be asked this during your next interview. What might surprise you though, is that this often dreaded question can actually be hugely advantageous.


For your convenience, brief yourself on these common interview weakness examples. Once you have an understanding of what some of your interview weaknesses are, check out our 2 step method for turning what was once thought to be a setback into a setup for success.


Step 1: Reframe Your “Weakness”

Whatever your weakness, there is always a way to frame it in a positive fashion. And not just one which sounds nice, but into a way which actually demonstrates a desirable quality. For example, if your weakness is impatience, another way to say it is you have a “strong sense of urgency.” Doing this not only removes the negative charge to the trait, but it indicates to the employer that you are no slouch (a positive characteristic).


The point here is that for every potentially negative weakness, there is an equally positive strength, it really just comes down to how you present it. A little creative thinking and rehearsal might be needed on your part, but the investment is worth the effort.


Of course, simply saying you have a strong sense of urgency, for example, is not enough. Being able to define that in positive terms is also important. Which is where step 2 comes in.


Step 2: Demonstrate Awareness

Always explain your strength (previously referred to as “weakness”) in a relevant context. This means elaborate a bit on what you mean, while drawing on workplace related situations.


For example, if your strength is a strong sense of urgency, you can talk about how you place an importance on getting things done quickly, or how you don’t like to waste time with indecision. Follow that up with how you think it affects others. Perhaps other people find your sense of urgency too intense.


Demonstrating an awareness of your strength, including how others may perceive it “negatively” makes you sound grounded, humble, and respectful. With that in mind, compare the 2 step response to a more common answer:


  • 2 Step Response: “I like getting things done. I know others might find it intense at times, but I value action over stagnation.”


  • Common Response: “I think I can be impatient. I can get frustrated at my co-workers when they are too slow.”


Case Study: Interview Weakness Example:

Here is the 2 Step method in action. As you begin to think about how you will formulate your answers, pay attention to the points and flow made in the example below:


“Some might call me impatient, but what I really exhibit is a sense of urgency. Impatience suggests impulsive, act before thinking type of behavior. A sense of urgency is simply the desire to make decisions and move forward toward a goal in a timely manner. I do not want to waste my time or anyone else´s by being indecisive, hesitant, or inactive. I know this sense of urgency can be too intense for some, and so it gets mislabeled as impatient. My default behavior is to approach projects with energy, but I recognize that others may not want to move as quickly. I understand that being a team player involves me taking a step back and ensuring I am not being overbearing.”


Not sure if you are ready for a career change? Often it is helpful to ask yourself some critical questions and be brutally honest with your answers. For a little more insight on your current work situation, check out our free Self Assessment Tool.

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